An innovative integrated home renovation service for private residential buildings to be validated in the Basque Country and with a high replicability potential in Europe. This will be achieved by setting up “district offices” as one-stop-shops to facilitate turn-key solutions to homeowners, covering the whole customer journey.
Project OPENGELA will develop and implement an innovative integrated home renovation service (IHRS) for private residential buildings in two districts in the Basque Country (Spain) and subsequently replicate it within the region. The project develops an economically viable business model that brings together active citizen engagement and an innovative financial instrument, making the service suitable for vulnerable populations. The local one-stop-shop pilots will be managed and coordinated by the Basque Government.
OPENGELA model will address the main challenges faced by energy efficiency programmes, namely the economic viability and the replicability by having a model built upon a public‐private partnership between the Basque Government and private actors providing financing and technical support and where district offices are funded with small fees paid by homeowners and validated providers. The project will rely on a proven financing tool –on‐tax financing– currently being promoted globally.
The project will implement energy efficiency as well as renewable energy solutions to ensure that the maximum CO2 mitigation impact is achieved. Additionally, integration with district heating and cooling systems will be taken into consideration to bring about a large-scale impact. Thus, for the same comfort conditions, a reduction of 30% in C02 emissions is expected with the energy-efficient and low-carbon solutions to be fostered. This quantity comes from the improvement reached when jumping from the “E” to “B” energy certification category.
During Opengela’s lifetime, the neighbourhood offices of the two pilot projects have assisted a total of 780 people who, thanks to the support of technical and administrative staff, have started their buildings’ renovation processes, reaching a total of 469 dwellings. The renovation interventions have clearly improved the quality of life of the residents. They included facilities to improve accessibility (installation of lifts, refurbishment of doorways) or the installation of fire safety systems. Of course, the energy performance has also improved thanks to façade insulation, installation of boilers, replacement of windows, etc. This had a direct impact on the quality and comfort conditions of the dwellings, shown by a significant improvement in indoor air quality. These improvements translate into an investment in sustainable energy of EUR 9.6 million, an energy demand saving of more than 3.9 GWh/year, a reduction in CO2 emissions of 758 tCO2/year, as well as mobilising private investment of EUR 3.2 million.
In addition, the project has facilitated funding through a specific system of the Opengela model, primarily serving people at risk of vulnerability. To this end, two-year credit lines have been created to finance public aid, financing has been facilitated for homeowners’ associations, and the age limit for access to financing has been extended to 70 (the average age of the people assisted is over 58), among other measures.
As Ignacio de la Puerta explained, the experience gained with the Opengela project «has enabled the development of a new management model that can be extended to the rest of the Basque Country with the objectives of reducing the risk of energy poverty among citizens, creating zero energy balance and friendly neighbourhoods with universal accessibility in the building stock and in urban environments and that can become carbon sinks in a significant contribution to mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change».
The success of this formula has led to its extension to other municipalities such as Lasarte (Basaundi Bailara) and Durango (Aramotz), as well as Pasaia (Andonaegi), Abanto-Zierbena (Las Peñucas), Santurtzi (Aurora Vildósola), Valle de Trápaga (San Andrés neighbourhood), Orduña (in the Dolores Madaria and Landata neighbourhoods), and in Amurrio (Goikolarra).
In addition, 14 neighbourhoods more are in the early stages of opening an Opengela office:
At the European level, after learning from other «One-Stop-Shops» in France (Picardie-Pass and Île-de-France énergies), Ireland (Tipperary- Electric Ireland SuperHomes), Italy (Sharing Cities – Milan) and Austria (RecoBooster – Vienna), Opengela has generated interest in other places to implement its model of urban regeneration. 7 regions and cities’ representatives came to Bilbao to visit the pilot neighbourhoods of Opengela with the idea of replicating the model. Energy agencies of 2 regions in Croatia (Medjimurje and the counties of Varazdin, Koprivnica-Krizevci and Virovitica-Podravina), 1 in Poland (Mazovia), 1 in Spain (Extremadura), and 1in Ireland (South East Region). Representatives of social housing from Greece (Thessaloniki) and Spain (Asturias) also joined the replication activities. They all came to Brussels 6 months after to share their feedback and what they plan to use in their territories.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 846707. The sole responsibility of this publication lies with the author. The European Union is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.